speech president


Aplicaciones anidadas

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Aplicaciones anidadas



speech of the president


María Iraburu




A new academic year begins at the University of Navarra and, as every year at this time, we experience the confluence between the permanent and the variable. Many of us return to our academic work as something familiar and at the same time new: we change ourselves and our vision of things, we advance our understanding of reality, we face new circumstances and we meet new people. Because the university renews itself every year with new students and also with the academic staff and other professionals who join our academic community: to all of them, my warmest welcome. Newness and continuity are also present in Navarre's institutions and in those in charge of them. I would like to take this opportunity to wish them a very fruitful period, which will contribute -as the President pointed out when she took office- to the common good of the people and institutions of our Autonomous Community. 

Taking into account the social context in which we find ourselves, in my words this year I would like to share some brief considerations about some challenges of the university in general and of the University of Navarra in particular that can serve us as reference letter for the course that is beginning. I choose the word "challenges" because they are attractive and, to a certain extent, countercultural goals and, therefore, difficult to achieve. They are, precisely for this reason, a stimulus to exercise the healthy rebelliousness inherent to the university environment, which should always be kept alive.

The first challenge is that of reflection. It may seem obvious that the university, because of its vocation for research and professor, should be a space for academic dialogue, for exchange among the sciences, for critical thinking, for the search for the deepest truths that lie at the root of the factual. However, this is not always the case. The academic degree program -both of professors and students- can be compatible with a vision of reality that is unilateral and closed to transcendence; it can coexist with prejudices and simplifications; it can develop in isolation from what is happening in the world and in people. When this happens, one can speak of academic degree program , but not of academic life, and the University and the people who are part of it, lose the meaning of their mission statement, so that their contribution, in the long run, ceases to be relevant. Because we are all in need not only of knowledge, but also of wisdom. We need it, first of all, our students, who are our raison d'être and who hope to find here not only an environment of openness and respect, but also of intellectual audacity that allows us to explore the great questions of human life. We need it, too, those of us who have made the university a vital commitment, and who are called upon to rediscover, again and again, our professional vocation and the principles that set us in motion a few or many years ago. Finally, it is needed by society, which cannot prosper without people who question the prevailing paradigms and open up new horizons that illuminate action. There are many initiatives, both at researcher and professor, that can be catalysts for reflection and academic dialogue, but there is also much to be done until each department, each academic center or research becomes a space of true academic life that energizes the university inwardly and enriches its contribution outwardly.

The second challenge is challenge of peaceful and pluralistic coexistence. This was clearly expressed by the founder of the University, St. Josemaría Escrivá, in an interview.

"The University is (...) the common home, a place of study and friendship; a place where people of different tendencies should live together in peace, which, at any given moment, are expressions of the legitimate pluralism that exists in society".

These words were spoken more than 50 years ago, when many universities in the western world were shaken by violence and conditioned by politicization. They are still relevant today, because it would not be true university coexistence if it were based on the homogeneity of positions or opinions, or if it were the result of atony or individualism. True coexistence assumes and is enriched with diversity and pluralism, with dialogue and participation. In this course that is beginning we can ask ourselves how we foster the true university meeting , in our task professor and mentoring, in the formal and informal meetings with students and colleagues. Lately there has been much talk, and rightly so, of the need to cultivate and enhance physical and especially mental health, especially in young people. I think it is safe to say that meeting between people, with the possibility of sharing thoughts, challenges, joys and sorrows is an effective and very collegial way to respond to this need.

The third challenge is that of social commitment. It is true that -as we like to remind our interlocutors with public responsibilities-, all the activity of the University of Navarra, the research, the teaching, the attendance, is a task of service to people and society, and this commitment is reinforced by the fact that it is a non-profit university with a social purpose. But this is not enough. I return to some words of St. Josemaría in that same interview, responding to a question about the university and politics:

"If by politics we mean being interested in and working for peace, for social justice, for freedom for all, in that case, everyone at the University, and the University as a corporation, has an obligation to feel those ideals and to foster concern for solving the great problems of human life."

It is not up to the university to provide specific solutions to problems, but to contribute with its own aims to peace, social justice and freedom for all. Do we feel these ideals? Do we foster this concern in ourselves, in our students? Addressing them Pope Francis said a few weeks ago: "the degree scroll (university) cannot be seen only as a licence to build welfare staff, but as a mandate to dedicate oneself to a more just society". In this task, universities of Christian inspiration have a rich patrimony in the so-called "social doctrine of the Church", a treasure not always known that can enlighten and inspire both believers and non-believers.

We live in times of strong polarization, of simplistic affirmations, contrary to any reflection and critical vision; of confrontation and blind positioning to the needs and legitimate interests of others: at final, a vitiated atmosphere that can fracture society. The three challenges of which we have spoken, reflection, coexistence and commitment, are three axes that define the university space. I like to imagine this space as an open and healthy territory, in which we breathe and from which clean air comes out, and which becomes a place of meeting for so many people and entities that are also committed to meeting and dialogue.

I would like to end these words by thanking you. First of all, to those of you who form part of and make this project a reality, committed to improving people and the world. Also to our collaborators and friends, whose generosity allows us to go much further, and finally to all the institutions that, in different ways, contribute to the University of Navarra continuing to be an engine of transformation for the benefit of all.

Thank you very much.